Hello, District 96 voters!
With public schools starting this week, I’m talking again about education, in particular, addressing school safety issues. For many of our young people, the first week of school is both an anxious and exciting time. For students starting school, or starting at a new school, there can be a lot of uncertainty about the year ahead – about teachers, classes, friends, or simply fitting in.
What there should never be uncertainty about is school safety. But, as we know, this is a concern. We’ve seen the tragedies continue to unfold – and have real fears for our own childrens’ safety.
What are we doing about safety in our schools for our students?
Our state legislators are not properly addressing this important issue.
The following statement is from Public Schools First NC, which is a statewide nonpartisan, nonprofit organization focused solely on pre-K – 12 public education issues. Says it perfectly.
I support legislation that works towards creating safe, secure schools for all our students and teachers including:
- keeping guns off schools grounds,
- not arming teachers at school,
- increasing the number of social workers, counselors, psychologists, and nurses in our schools,
- implementing violence prevention and threat reporting programs at school, increasing funding for school security,
- and passing comprehensive, common sense gun safety laws that work to protect our children.
Let me repeat that last statement: “passing comprehensive, common sense gun safety laws that work to protect our children.” I agree. Wholeheartedly.
And, that’s what I’ll work for when you send me to Raleigh. Our current representative has focused some on school safety, but in my opinion he is looking in the wrong direction. Jay Adams participated in a school-shooter active-training exercise with live ammunition in Caldwell County. And, he has sponsored legislation to allow individuals to carry a concealed firearm without a permit.
We can do better. We must do better. An important area to look at is the recommendation for counselors and psychologists – because we all know that raising healthy children involves so much more than diet and exercise.
We know that having more school counselors helps qualified adults intervene in the lives of children who are facing crises. The American School Counselor Association recommends at least one counselor for every 250 students. In North Carolina, we are lucky if a district has a counselor for every 400 students. As for psychologists, according to the NC School Psychology Association, “Just 740 school psychologists serve the N.C. public school child population of about 1.6 million children….That’s a ratio of 1 psychologist for every 2,162 students.
I’ve talked about how classes are incredibly overcrowded, with one teacher now supervising more than 30 students. Those teachers will tell you that they are not able to properly address discipline problems. They may not see instances of bullying because they simply can’t be everywhere at once.
They overlook the student who is having problems at home because they have too many students who are having problems in the classroom.
Students act out. Young people experiencing growth and hormonal changes need to be in safe, structured environments where they learn discipline and respect. Respect for each other, for adults, and for education. This doesn’t mean a return to corporal punishment, and It definitely doesn’t mean arming teachers. It means that learning is the primary thing happening in the classroom.
We can get there by bringing more adults back into the system. More people who are qualified to deal with problems. Whether it is about safety or stopping the school-to-prison pipeline, we need to have adults trained to address problems long before a student ever considers harming others or themselves.
I am inspired by the mothers who started Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense after the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting and I am inspired by the students from Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School who mobilized after the tragedy at their school. I am inspired by our own students here in Hickory who organized and said, "enough"!
Here’s what our students need: Voters who will elect lawmakers that will make policy changes to help prevent these tragedies. I know more guns are not the answer. I have listened to teachers and safety specialists who tell us the solution is more one-on-one attention to students. We need to meet them where they are, intervene early before issues become crises, and keep them focused on getting a great education.
Thanks for listening. Next, starting on Labor Day I’ll focus on jobs and economic growth. For now, follow my campaign on social media and visit my website to learn more about how we can work together to improve our public schools.
Above all, mark your calendar and vote for Kim Bost on November 6th.